Everyone hits that point in his life when it’s time to throw away the empty pizza boxes and start entertaining a social — or maybe even romantic — life like a genuine grown-up. You know, complete with nice things in your apartment and art on the walls that isn’t made of bottlecaps.
Fortunately for all of you gunk-scraping, mismatched-sock wearing, cold-leftovers-for-breakfast bachelors out there, cleaning up your pad and turning it into a place you would be proud to show your own mom is, in fact, completely doable.
Here’s a look at how to tackle the problem head on, take control over your own household, and truly clean up your act.
How urgent is the problem?
Let’s start by asking a personal question: Are you already dating someone, or are you just thinking about entering the dating world?
If you are in the latter camp and haven’t met someone yet, you can reinvent yourself now as a Zen minimalist and be on your merry way. Of course, this could prove to be difficult to keep up if you plan to pursue a future with a new person in your life.
We understand that changing your lifestyle on the fly is hard work. Once a pack rat, always a pack rat, right? But you can work to decrease the clutter.
If you’re in a new relationship, it’s time to be honest. Let this special someone know that you have the tendency to hang onto things. There is no point in trying to sweep this under the rug — that will never work. You’ll be discovered sooner or later, and then you will find yourself trying to explain things that may defy logical explanation.
You could take it a step further, and prevent any future unexpected surprises by letting this person know that, because you care, you have stowed away your hockey goalie gear and other stuff in a nearby self-storage facility. In this way, your new friend won’t feel like she stumbled into a scene from “Friday the 13th” every time she trips over your mask.
If you are already in the midst of a relationship and love is in bloom, your friend probably already knows all about your adorable (some might say “questionable”) squirrel-like tendencies.
But since you care about this person and want to make space for her in your life — both literally and figuratively — you look for ways to reduce your clutter. You might even ask for help with this task, so the two of you will have room for each other, as well as having the ability to entertain together. You might then be able to invite other like-minded adults over for a civilized evening of cocktails and charades (or maybe wings and football). Either way, all of this healthy communication and teamwork will certainly pay off for both of you in the future.
Compromise for a healthy home
If you are prepared to make your girlfriend a part of the process in deciding how to move forward, you need to be ready to remove your ego from the mix, and field questions about realistic ways to share your space together.
Sit down together and take a good hard look at everything around you. Talk with each other about what is acceptable as far as the remnants of your historic hobbies and what can now be laid to rest.
Let her know you still care about your things, but you want help figuring out what you should keep and what you should let go. More importantly, make sure you both discuss why your respective opinions about these items matter to you before simply packing it all up and sending it to a storage locker. There is always some middle ground whereyou can compromise with one another.
And remember, it doesn’t all need to end up in self-storage. Find ways to store your everyday items usingbookshelvesandclever hangers. And, if you have a garage, don’t let it become the catch-all for items that hang in limbo — use it to createsmart storage solutions that you both can appreciate.
Maybe you’re not alone when it comes to clearing the clutter
What if your partner has similar collecting tendencies, and has her own closet — or closets — full of stuff? This is another reason healthy and caring communication is critical. You don’t want to show up on moving day with piles of things for your chosen living space and find there’s nowhere to put it all. Before you know it, you could end up on“Hoarders: Couples Edition” if you don’t pare down your belongings together.
While the pairing of two pack rats might seem like a recipe for disaster, if you love each other and are willing to honestly discuss realistic options, you can make it work. You will both need to stay vigilant to keep each other on track, but we know you can do it.
Make a plan for success together
Schedule times when you do purge ceremonies to make sure you stay ahead of your collective clutter. At least once a year, go through your stuff and list the items you will keep and those that you will commit to sending to storage. As you make a habit of it, the process should become easier for both of you.
Also, plan together where you will keep certain things, and occasionally check those places to make sure there has been no unexpected slippage. Staying on top of the sneaky ways clutter gets in will keep you honest with each other, which means fewer arguments and less overall relationship strain. We’d call that a win-win.Clearing out your homeand your life to make room for someone new is a huge sign of growth and love. And we bet you’ll feel better when you don’t have to step over empty pizza boxes, too.
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